Legislature(2003 - 2004)
03/30/2004 03:35 PM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CSHB 213(FIN) -PROVISIONAL DRIVER'S LICENSE CHAIR GARY STEVENS announced HB 213 to be up for consideration. REPRESENTATIVE BRUCE WEYHRAUCH, sponsor, introduced the bill using charts to show the committee the number of vehicle accidents involving youths that result in fatalities. The first chart showed that the number of crashes drops dramatically as drivers get older. Chart two showed that youth driving accidents peak after school then again around midnight. Crash statistics also show that youths have significantly more accidents when there are more than two youths in the car. The data is stark and telling, he said. He introduced the bill during the previous session and the current committee substitute cherry picks the best parts of laws from 40 other states that have enacted this type of driver's license provision. REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH described the following system: 3-Tiered System for Driver Licensing under HB 213 Permit License Provisional License Unrestricted Must be 14 years Minimum age: 16 Must have had old provisional license for 6 months Must pass written Must have had Must have clean test permit for 6 months driving record (no convictions for traffic in past 6 months.) Must pass road test Parent certification of 40 hours driving under progressively difficult circumstances Must have clean driving record (no convictions for traffic offenses in past 6 months While driving with a Provisional License: No nighttime driving between 1 am and 5 am · Exceptions: kids can get work permit to drive during restricted times, kids can drive with parent or legal guardian Generally no passengers · Exceptions: passengers who are siblings and adults over 21, passengers when accompanied by the driver's parent or legal guardian CHAIR GARY STEVENS asked why provisional licensees would not be permitted to drive between the hours of 1 am and 5 am. REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH said those hours are the result of a decision made in the House Transportation Committee. CHAIR GARY STEVENS asked if the six month provisional license requirement would impact an 18 year old who recently moved to Alaska? REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH replied it wouldn't impact anyone that moved to Alaska with a valid unrestricted license from another state. Anyone arriving with a provisional license from another state would be subject to the Alaska provisional license requirements. LINDA SYLVESTER, staff to Representative Weyhrauch, further explained that the bill targets drivers that are 16. "Once you're 18 you're an adult and you're free and clear," she said. SENATOR BERT STEDMAN questioned whether a 17 year old that moved to Alaska with an unrestricted license from another state would be required to apply for a six month provisional license. MS. SYLVESTER suggested that a Department of Motor Vehicles representative would be able to answer that question. SENATOR STEDMAN commented that many youths living in rural Alaska assume adult responsibilities earlier than in other areas. With that in mind, he asked how Alaska youth driving fatality data compares to nationwide data. REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH opined that the responsibilities that Alaskan youths assume in rural and fishing communities is similar to those in farm communities in other states. He noted that the bill allows youths to obtain a work permit to drive during restricted times. MS. SYLVESTER added that Alaska accident statistics for youths mirror those from other states, but there are more youth driving fatalities in Alaska. Consistently, accident rates have gone down in states that have adopted a graduated system, she stated. SENATOR STEDMAN asked why driver's education courses weren't included as a requirement. REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH told him that enrolling in a driver's education course would count toward the parent certification part of the provisional license. MS. SYLVESTER pointed out that requiring a driver's education course would burden parents with a cost, which might be a hardship. "We also read a study that shows that driver's education does not produce the results that a holding period, the restriction from driving around with your friends does," she added. SENATOR STEDMAN asked what happens if someone with a provisional license receives a traffic infraction. REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH said the youth would have to be convicted of the infraction before it would impact receipt of the unrestricted license. CHAIR GARY STEVENS referred to the National Transportation Safety Fact Sheet and asked about restricting cell phone use. REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH said the cell phone issue is separate and they chose not to muddy the waters. SENATOR JOHN COWDERY asked what affect this would have on insurance rates. REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH told him he wasn't sure, but someone from the insurance industry was available to answer questions. SENATOR COWDERY asked whether infractions would affect insurance rates. REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH replied that is generally the case. SENATOR COWDERY asked whether the Department of Public Safety favored the bill. MS. SYLVESTER said, "Law enforcement is wildly in support of this bill." REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH said the bill is very specific about the restrictions and it's only for six months. SENATOR COWDERY remarked it's a good bill that has his support. CHAIR GARY STEVENS referred to page 1, line 11 and asked what proof of driving experience would entail. REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH said Mr. Bannock would address that question. DUANE BANNOCK, Division of Motor Vehicles representative, testified via teleconference. He said the bill would be implemented to coincide with the effective date and they do not intend to recall licenses to add the restriction. Implementation would be through a restriction process that would be printed on the license just as it is now for corrective lenses, daylight driving etc. With regard to Senator Stedman's question regarding grandfathering from other states with dissimilar programs, he said the applicant would be subject to the provisional license if he or she were less than 18 years old. As to who would certify the 40 hours driving experience, he said it would typically be the parent or guardian simply because young people need parental consent to apply for a driver's license. The parent might not have driven all 40 hours with the youth, but they are signing to certify the hours. "And that is how we intend to implement this portion of this bill," he said. JEFF JESSY, Alaska State PTA representative, spoke in strong support of HB 213 saying that the association identified a graduated licensing bill as a top legislative priority for this session. Parents are convinced that having this bill in place will help new drivers gain experience with reasonable restrictions imposed under manageable conditions. MARTHA MOORE, Department of Health and Social Services representative, spoke in support of HB 213. In her work she has specifically studied serious teen crashes as compared to adult crashes. She agreed with Ms. Sylvester that Alaska statistics mirror national statistics and that teens are more likely to be involved in crashes than adults. She reported that teen driving studies show that although the death rate for crashes declined in the 20 years from 1975 to 1996, for 16 year olds the number doubled. The death rate for 17 to 19 year old drivers is twice that for older drivers and the death rate for 16 year old drivers is three times that of older drivers. "Immaturity alone is the most significant factor in putting these kids at risk," she said, and being surrounded by distractions and peer pressure just adds to the risk. Since 1996 38 states have adopted a graduated license program, which has contributed to lowering crash and death rates in those states. The legislation will help youths gain driving experience while under adult supervision and the six months provisional time will allow time for increased maturity. MONIQUE BARTEAU said she is a 16 year old JDHS student testifying for Youth in Action and MADD in support of HB 213. She believes the bill will help reduce teen accidents in Alaska just as it has in North Carolina where teen crashes have dropped 57 percent since adopting a restricted licensing program. 4:10 pm Senator Gretchen Guess joined the hearing. DON SMITH, Alaska Highway Safety Office Administrator, testified in support of HB 213. He agreed with the statistics given regarding the number of teen crashes. The bill will save lives, he asserted. SHELDON WINTERS, Lobbyist for State Farm Insurance, responded to Senator Cowdery's question about how this program would affect insurance rates saying he had no hard data. However, most agencies already have discounts for youths that meet certain safety criteria and claims certainly affect premiums. It's likely that the program will have a generally positive affect on claims, he said. In conclusion, he emphasized that the bill isn't about insurance rates; it's about saving lives and that's where the focus should remain. CINDY CASHEN, Executive Director MAAD Juneau, testified in support of HB 213. Evidence shows that teens that go through a graduated license process tend to support the program, she said. MAAD examined 2001 Alaska traffic crashes to find out how teens were driving in small villages, and towns, and cities. They found that 34 percent of the crashes in Kodiak involved teen drivers, 28 percent of the crashes in Anchorage involved teens and 26 percent of the crashes in Barrow were teen related. Across Alaska, teens accounted for 28 percent of the crashes, she said. SENATOR GUESS asked whether they had considered including volunteer supervisor on page 1, line 11. CHAIR GARY STEVENS restated the previous explanation with help from Ms. Sylvester to Senator Guess's satisfaction. SENATOR GUESS asked whether they had considered including volunteer situations on page 2, line 26. TAPE 04-24 SIDE B 4:25 pm MS. SYLVESTER acknowledged that a graduated license program would be inconvenient for a short period of time. But, she said, "for that small inconvenience you get a lot back." SENATOR GUESS referred to the top of page 3 and questioned the requirement using the most direct available route because that might not be the safest route. REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH told her the House Transportation Committee talked about that for at least three meetings. He assured her that there is no intent by the sponsor to cause someone to drive a dangerous route. The driver should certainly be allowed reasonable discretion for common sense to prevail. SENATOR GUESS suggested giving more thought to that issue and then asked for a definition for "off the road system." MS. SYLVESTER said that provision would cover a village situation. REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH added that resulted from Bush concerns. SENATOR STEDMAN returned to the question of dissimilar licenses for teens moving to Alaska from another state and asked how long a driver has before they're required to apply for a new license. MR. BANNOCK explained that drivers have 30 days to apply for an Alaskan license. With regard to the question about dissimilar licenses, he said that is specifically addressed in AS 28.15.055. If a driver that is at least 16 years old moves to Alaska from a state that does not have a provisional license program, that driver must satisfy the Alaska provisional license requirements if he or she is under 18 years old. SENATOR STEDMAN disagreed with the provision. MS. SYLVESTER advised that, at last count, there were just 13 jurisdictions that didn't have a three-tiered license program and she thought that number would be zero in the next five years. CHAIR GARY STEVENS asked how the instructional permit meshes with the provisional license. MR. BANNOCK said they hope that at age 14 young drivers begin logging the instructional hours addressed on page 1, lines 11- 14. REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH pointed out that the bill amends the provisional license program that is already on the books. There's just never been a provisional license, he said. SENATOR COWDERY made a motion to move CSHB 213(FIN) from committee with the attached fiscal note and asked for unanimous consent. There being no objection, it was so ordered.